Liverpool are on the verge of withdrawing from the race to sign Moises Caicedo from Brighton, says transfer journalist Fabrizio Romano after it became clear he is interested in joining Chelsea.
Brighton recently accepted a British-record bid from Liverpool for Caicedo in the region of £111m. At the time, it was believed that personal terms would be a formality. However, the situation that has unfolded has been rather different.
It is now clear that Caicedo would prefer to join Chelsea, who are preparing to match Liverpool’s offer. And according to Romano, it means the Reds are seriously considering that they should ‘walk away’ from the deal.
What happens next for Liverpool is something they will have to work out. Chelsea are also close to agreeing a deal for another of their midfield targets, Romeo Lavia of Southampton.
Therefore, a vacuum remains at the base of Liverpool’s midfield after they sold Fabinho to Al-Ittihad earlier in the summer.
The way they have approached the Caicedo saga is now under scrutiny, with their former defender Jamie Carragher explaining how big a blow it will be to miss out on him.
Carragher told Sky Sports: “When you think of Liverpool needing a midfielder – or anyone really in the Premier League – Moises Caicedo is one of the names that would jump out at you straight away.
“To be fair to Chelsea, they’ve been in the running for two or three months. If he wants to go to Chelsea, and he’s given them his word and he’s spoken already to the manager, doesn’t want to break that promise, then you could say ‘fair enough’.
“Liverpool have come in at a late stage as they didn’t want to pay a certain price for Romeo Lavia. The price for Caicedo is big, but Liverpool are probably more desperate than Chelsea.
“When you think of the figures now for a holding midfielder, we questioned the price of Enzo Fernandez in the January transfer window. He cost £100m and then Declan Rice went to Arsenal for £105m, and Caicedo has been valued at £111m.
“I’m desperate for him to come to Liverpool as the need for him there is probably greater. It’s going to be a big blow.”
Carragher stressed that Liverpool’s owners should have gauged whether or not Caicedo wanted to join them before putting a nine-figure bid on the table for him.
The Sky pundit added: “Liverpool’s ownership were willing to sanction the British transfer record in terms of bringing Caicedo in, but to make such a bid without knowing if the player wants to come is not something that’s done.
“Caicedo should always have been Liverpool’s first option, and if you couldn’t get him then fair enough, you move to Lavia as your second option.
“It feels like it’s almost the wrong way around and they may have to now go back to Southampton and pay the £50m they want for the player.
“We shouldn’t forget that Caicedo is a young lad who is getting pushed from pillar to post. He’s getting a lot of advice off different people, so whatever he decides should be respected.
“Liverpool have obviously got the money if they want for Lavia, but it’s whether they feel he is worth £50m. Liverpool’s ownership has always been about whether they feel they are getting value for money.
“If they feel they need to go really big, like they’ve done in the past with Vigil van Dijk or Alisson, then they will. If they feel someone is really worth it then they’ll do it.
“Money has never been the problem at Liverpool, they just want the right player at the right time. The biggest problem for Liverpool right now in getting business done is not the ownership, it’s the structure of the club.
“It’s changed so much in the past 12 to 18 months, and right now Liverpool don’t have a permanent director of football. [Jorg Schmadtke] is there on a temporary basis as they look to fill that position and that’s not perfect.”